Ilya Kovalchuk, Brian Rolston, Patrik Elias

Riding the Zamboni – Friday, February 11th

For a recap of the 307 PIM game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins, click here. This post includes a summary of Peter Forsberg’s solid, but ultimately fruitless return to the NHL. Now let’s take a look at the other six contests.

Detroit 6, Boston 1

Hopefully the backside of this home-and-home series will be a little more competitive, considering the fact that it’s our Game of the Week on Sunday. The Red Wings scored on their first two shots of the game to absolutely dominate the Bruins in Boston. It’s a good thing that Tim Thomas regained his Vezina Trophy form this season, because Tuukka Rask only has five wins during the 2010-11 season. Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and two assists, Pavel Datsyuk had two helpers and Todd Bertuzzi scored two in this laugher for the Wings.

New Jersey 2, San Jose 1

OK, it’s official: the Devils are red-hot. Ilya Kovalchuk has been the biggest catalyst for New Jersey’s surprising 12-1-2 run, as he scored his second game winning goal in as many nights. The talented but slow-starting Russian also provided an assist, factoring into each of New Jersey’s tallies. This loss hurts the Sharks, who are now firmly behind the Stars for the top spot in the Pacific.

Atlanta 3, NY Rangers 2

Not only did the Thrashers beat the Rangers, they also made sure that the slumping Blueshirts didn’t take away a point from this game. The come-from-behind win places Atlanta back in eighth place with 60 points, while New York’s spot in seventh is threatened at 62. John Tortorella’s gang is on a six game skid.

Tobias Enstrom (one assist) might have made his return, but Evander Kane was the star of this game, scoring the game-tying and winning goals while also assisting on Anthony Stewart’s tally.

Minnesota 5, St. Louis 4 (SO)

The Wild are quietly one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now. Cal Clutterbuck scored twice while Andrew Brunette scored a goal and an assist while John Madden scored the shootout winner for Minnesota. David Backes was strong in a losing effort, providing two goals of his own for the Blues.

Dallas 4, Chicago 3 (SO)

It seemed like the Stars would lose to their former goalie Marty Turco (32 out of 35 saves) when they were down 3-0, but Dallas stormed back into the game to tie it up and eventually win. All three Stars forward scored on Turco in the shootout to win an exciting game between two entertaining teams. Brad Richards scored a goal in regulation and the shootout for Dallas while Patrick Kane produced a goal and two assists for Chicago.

Anaheim 5, Calgary 4 (OT)

Cam Fowler scored his fourth goal in five games, giving the Ducks the overtime winner. This win pushes the streaking Ducks all the way to fourth place in the West. Teemu Selanne scored a goal and three assists while fellow Finn Saku Koivu provided two goals and one assist himself. Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen had a goal and an assist each for Calgary, who remain in eighth in the West.

Video: Brian Elliott takes a blast off the mask, stays in the game

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A bit of a scary moment in the third period of Game 2 between the Stars and Blues.

Less than five minutes into the third period, Jason Spezza took a shot that caught Blues goalie Brian Elliott square in the mask. Play was halted as Elliott remained down. It appears as though the shot to the mask also made Elliott lose one of his contacts.

Thankfully, Elliott wasn’t seriously injured on the play. After being examined by the team doctor, he was allowed to stay into the game. He did need a new mask though (he got his original one back a few minutes later).

You can watch the play by clicking the video at the top of the page.

The Blues currently lead 3-2 late in the third period.

Here’s some Twitter reaction:

 

Lehtonen only lasts one period in Game 2

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Kari Lehtonen might have been more hit than miss in the playoffs going into today’s action, but Game 2 against St. Louis was certainly a start he’d like to forget.

Dallas outshot St. Louis 10-5 in the first frame, but the Blues still managed to take a 3-1 lead. Antti Niemi replaced Lehtonen for the second period which means, barring another goalie change, Lehtonen will actually end up with a sub-.500 save percentage this afternoon.

The numbers obviously look bad and it’s hard not to blame Lehtonen in the face of that, but the Blues deserve a lot of the credit for those goals. Patrik Berglund had a great shot on goal for the first marker, Joel Edmundson‘s first career playoff goal came after a nice setup by Troy Brouwer, and when Brouwer collected his own goal it was off of a rebound during a power play.

So to an extent, you could say Lehtonen looked bad due to circumstances that were very unfavorable to him. Nevertheless, the Stars needed to shake things up after what was unquestionably a bad period for them.

Dupuis, Jagr, Zuccarello are Masterton Trophy finalists

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 18:  Pascal Dupuis #9 of the Pittsburgh Penguins in action against the New York Rangers during their game at Madison Square Garden on December 18, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis, Florida’s Jaromir Jagr, and the Rangers’ Mats Zuccarello have been selected as the three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

The Masterton Trophy recognizes “the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” In 2015 it went to Devan Dubnyk, who struggled mightily in 2013-14, but dramatically turned his career around the following season and led the Minnesota Wild to the playoffs in the process.

Dupuis attempted to play in the 2015-16 campaign while taking blood thinners, but on Dec. 8 he announced that he would stop playing “because of a medical condition related to blood clots.”

Jagr celebrated his 44th birthday in February, but despite his age he managed to score 27 goals and 66 points in 79 contests this season. With that, he became the oldest player to reach the 60-point mark in a single NHL campaign.

Zuccarello played in 81 games and set career-highs with 26 goals and 61 points this season after suffering a skull fracture and brain contusion during the 2015 playoffs that left him temporarily unable to speak.

Can there be parallels drawn between the 2016 Ducks and 2014 Sharks?

Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) takes the puck up ice on a breakaway with San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, center, and Ducks center Nate Thompson, right, trailing on the play during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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The Anaheim Ducks might not have suffered a reverse sweep at the hands of one of their biggest rivals, but they seem to have reached a breaking point when it comes to playoff disappointments.

After firing head coach Bruce Boudreau, GM Bob Murray was highly critical of the team’s core, even noting that at this point he’s not a fan of long-term contracts. That was perhaps a swipe at how he feels Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf‘s eight-year $69 million and $66 million contracts have worked out thus far. Meanwhile Ryan Kesler‘s six-year deal worth roughly $41 million is about to begin.

After San Jose suffered its first round loss to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said they were now becoming a “tomorrow team” and they began a cultural shift that included Joe Thornton losing the captaincy.

There are differences of course between the two situations. One notable one is that the Sharks’ guard was already starting to change hands in 2013-14. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were entering their mid-30s, but Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture were on the rise. Anaheim’s core of Getzlaf and Perry is significantly younger, but while Anaheim also has some promising forwards like Jakob Silfverberg, that generation of players doesn’t seem ready to carry the torch for the Ducks.

“We don’t have a lot of young guys in the lineup. … Today’s a much different feeling leaving the rink,” Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said, per the Los Angeles Times. “In those [previous] years there’s been a sense of hope. Today, there’s zero feeling like that.”

Perhaps the Anaheim Ducks will find hope by watching the rest of the 2016 playoffs. If the San Jose Sharks continue to succeed, they will be an example of a team that once underachieved, hit a critical low, but then managed to fix that in a relatively short time without a massive turnover in terms of on-ice personnel. While we’re at it, you could make a similar argument for the Washington Capitals.

Maybe Murray will look to those franchises for inspiration as he moves forward.